What’s happening: Israel-Lebanon cross-border hostilities


Is there conflict between Israel and Lebanon?

Since 8th October 2023, there have been ongoing military clashes between the IDF and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and northern Israel. These clashes have involved daily cross-border attacks by Hezbollah militants, including missile strikes and attempted infiltrations into Israeli territory. In response, the IDF has conducted airstrikes targeting Hezbollah positions in various southern Lebanese areas. As a precaution, Israeli authorities evacuated 28 towns within a 3-mile (5km) radius of the Lebanese border. The clashes have resulted in casualties, including at least 150 Hezbollah militants and numerous civilian deaths in Lebanon, as well as casualties among IDF personnel and civilians in northern Israel, totalling nine IDF and four civilian deaths.

Tensions have escalated since Israel's alleged assassination of a Hamas official in Beirut on 2nd January. In response, Hezbollah launched a missile and drone attack on an Israeli air traffic control base. Israel retaliated by targeting a Hezbollah commander, and Hezbollah, in turn, attacked an Israeli command headquarters on 9th January. The situation involves cross-border hostilities, attacks, and retaliation between the two sides, leading to heightened tensions in the region.

Diplomatic efforts by the US and EU are underway to ease tensions along the border. Officials are engaging with stakeholders in both nations to prevent a larger scale conflict. Israeli authorities have repeatedly warned that if Hezbollah does not withdraw to north of the Litani River as stipulated under UN Security Council Resolution 1701, then the IDF would launch a military operation to force a withdrawal. Israeli officials have insinuated that such an operation would be accompanied by widespread bombing of Beirut, while Hezbollah has indicated a preference for peace but readiness to respond if provoked. Hezbollah do not have the capability of a conventional military, but the group is highly capable in Guerilla warfare. The Lebanese Army has also sent reinforcements to the border and increased attempts to foil rocket launches into northern Israel.

Operational developments

Several governments, including the US, UK, France, Canada, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and Australia, have issued travel advisories warning their citizens against traveling to Lebanon amid ongoing clashes.

Major airlines like Lufthansa, Swiss International Air, Eurowings, and Saudia have suspended flights to Lebanon indefinitely, while Middle Eastern Airlines operates with limited capacity from Beirut-Rafic Hariri (BEY), the country's sole commercial airport.

The UN maintains a peacekeeping force of roughly 10,000 military personnel in southern Lebanon. The authorities have confirmed that UNIFIL has no plans to depart the country despite the recent escalation in hostilities.

Wider developments in the region

In the wider region, there's increased tension as Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria have heightened anti-US activities. They've launched numerous UAV and rocket assaults on US bases, causing minor injuries to at least 63 US personnel since October 7th. Main targets include coalition bases in Iraq and Syria, resulting in US airstrikes on militia positions. Notably, Kataib Hezbollah and Harakat al-Nujaba are frequently targeted militias, with a senior member of Harakat al-Nujaba being assassinated in a US airstrike.

In another front, the Iranian-supported Houthi movement in Yemen has conducted multiple drone and missile strikes targeting Eilat in southern Israel, as well as ongoing attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea. Their threats extend to any ship heading to Israel, leading to increased security measures, including a multinational maritime operation initiated by the US to protect commercial vessels. This comes after major shipping companies diverted their shipments from the Red Sea due to the continued Houthi attacks.


Israel's actions and intentions

Israel's recent targeting of Beirut indicates a departure from previous restraint, challenging Hezbollah's ability to deter Israeli operations. Israeli leaders are prioritising border security following a drop in public confidence since 7th October, 2023. There’s a preference for diplomatic solutions but readiness for a military operation if diplomacy fails, including a possible ground invasion of south Lebanon and an air campaign targeting Beirut.

Hezbollah's position

Hezbollah aims to draw Israeli resources away from Gaza and maintain pressure for a ceasefire with Hamas. Escalation with Israel poses risks, including potential backlash from non-Shia populations in Lebanon. Retaliation against IDF attacks demonstrates Hezbollah's capability while avoiding actions that could trigger severe Israeli responses.

Challenges and concerns:

  • The IDF's ongoing operations in Gaza complicate prospects for a Hezbollah-Israel border agreement.
  • The US seeks to prevent further escalation, concerned about potential wider regional conflict and its impact on the upcoming presidential elections.
  • Lebanese Army actions aim to prevent escalation but are unlikely to confront Hezbollah directly.
  • The presence of UNIFIL complicates a ground invasion in southern Lebanon but facilitates communication between Israeli and Hezbollah officials.
  • Evacuation of Israeli border communities reduces the risk of civilian casualties, potentially decreasing escalation chances.

We assess at an EVEN CHANCE possibility rating that the Israeli IDF could announce a military operation aimed at pushing Hezbollah back beyond the Litani river by the end of the month.


  • Maintain Updated Evacuation Plans: Review and update evacuation plans regularly, considering the evolving security situation. Compile manifests for non-essential staff and their families leaving Lebanon.
  • Suspend Non-Essential Inbound Travel: Defer non-essential inbound travel to Lebanon and delay new deployments if possible. Conduct a risk-benefit analysis before deploying essential employees.
  • Monitor Developments Daily: Monitor local and international media daily for security updates. Gather local intelligence by liaising with ground contacts and utilising reliable information sources.
  • Ensure Effective Communication and Relations: Prioritise security-related information in communications with employees. Maintain relations with embassies, local security companies, and ground transport providers for timely and accurate information dissemination and assistance.

If you require support, or for confidential discussions about evacuation planning and risk mitigation, please email the team at Healix (enquiries@healix.com) who’ll be happy to help you. 

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